Armenia: Church Food Festival

I guess the best way to get me to church is to promise food.  OK, maybe we did go to a church but we didn’t actually go to any services.  Pretty sure some type of natural disaster inside that church would happen if I passed through the doors.  However, we did attend the St Mary’s Armenian Apostolic church food 67th food festival.

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We were not exactly sure what we were going to be walking to.  During this challenge my mind has been opened and I was ready for whatever was ahead of us.  The church is near Friendship Heights and hidden off Wisconsin Ave.   The event was inside due to the weather but looked like they were well prepared for this.

When you walked inside there were tables set up with Armenian jewelry and clothes being sold by little old ladies.  In the middle was a large line heading towards a large window where the kitchen was located.  Behind all this was a large dining room where the drinks and dessert were being served.  We quickly made our way to the end of the long line.  While Bridget held our spot, I made my way to the drinks as I saw beer was being sold.  I bought an Armenian lager called Kotayk.

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The line moved along quickly and we approached the counter.  It was a large open window that had volunteers in the kitchen serving everyone.  You could either order a kebab platter or everything a la carte.

I decided to go with a kebab platter and with the Luleh kebabs.  Luleh is ground meat made into a kebab with Armenian spices.  On the side came rice pilaf and  a small side salad.  I decided this was not enough food and added a side of the Armenian green beans.  They were very reminiscent of the Romanian green beans we recently made at home.  They were sauteed in tomatoes and onion but they tasted so much better than what we made.

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Bridget went the way of the a la carte style.  Being that this was day 3 of the food festival many items were sold out (we would be way more disappointed at the dessert table because of this).  Bridget ordered baked eggplant in Armenian spices called Eggplant Delight.  She also went with a side of few unique dishes.  One was called Lentil Patties.  The patties were mix of lentils, bulgar, cayenne and cumin.  They were a bit different, maybe more because it was cold.  The other dish she ordered was something called Eech.  My opinion she ordered it because of the name, being fun to say.  Eech is an salad consisting of bulgar wheat, tomatoes, parsley, onion and lemon juice.

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We enjoyed our meal with strangers and large community tables in the dining area.  After the awkward meal we made our way to the dessert table.  As I said before this being day 3 of the festival many items were sold out, especially the Armenian desserts (baklava, bourma, haskanoush, kurabia).  Many of the items I wanted to try and never had before.

The lady at the table made a few suggestions that were left being still Armenian.  She gave us a few cookies made by an old Armenian lady.  Which I guess makes it Armenian since it was made by a little old lady from Armenia.  Also we got a couple of Choreg, a rich sweet brioche bread.  We got two types: walnut and sesame tahini.  Not the most satisfying and a bit dry but there wasn’t much left as we walked out with our box of treats.

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This was our first time enjoying food while being in a church.  The people were very welcoming and had no issues with strangers enjoying their home cooked cuisine.  The Armenian church did an amazing job and we enjoyed going to church (not any time soon will we be back however.)  Consider this the Sunday miracle it was.

-Matt

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